By Iron Chef Leftovers
In looking through my beer notes, I realized that I had quite a run of dark beers in December. I guess I was either just drinking to the season or drinking what was new and interesting. Either way, a December trip to Elliot Bay Brewing yielded a beer which I had not seen before – the Paint It Black Lager. Black Lagers are a beer style that you don’t see too much these days so that appealed to me and it figured that I had to give a shot to a beer that was named after my favorite Rolling Stones song. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any details about the beer on the interwebs.
The beer pours jet black with a creamy brown head. Roasted malt dominates the beer with hints of grain and mild hops supporting on the nose. The beer starts out on the palate strong with a slightly boozy vanilla, followed quickly by a pleasant milk chocolate and grain component, before moving into light coffee and sweet roasted malt. The finish is long and pleasant with lingering notes of coffee and chocolate supported by sweet malt and just the faintest hint of hops. The beer is deep and layered, and a nice change of pace if you are looking for something dark without venturing into the world of stouts or porters.
Elliot Bay Brewing’s Paint It Black Lager strums in with 4 Red Doors out of 5.
By Iron Chef Leftovers
The beauty of Elysian’s beers is that they not only have some grate creativity, but they do produce a good number of tribute beers – beers that are clones of very well known, but not necessarily great beers. One they did recently was a clone of Yuengling Porter as a tribute to one of their employees. In case you are not aware, Yuengling from Pottsville, PA, is the oldest continuously operating brewery in the United States, brewing beer back to 1829, and their porter holds a soft spot in my heart as one of the first dark beers that I truly loved 20+ years ago (although calling the beer a porter is a bit of a misnomer, it is actually a black lager and not a true porter). The beer was only available on tap and clocked in at just 25 IBU and 4% ABV.
Raconteur looks very much like Yuengling in the glass – a slightly opaque black, not the deep black that you might expect from a porter. Chocolate malt with hints of grain dominate the nose, with much a more pronounced aroma than the original. There is lots of grain up front on the initial sip with notes of chocolate and caramel interspersed – much bolder than the original, with a long and slightly hoppy finish. You get a great deal of the lager character on this beer, same as the original, but the malt, roasted flavors and hops are amped up making the copy a bolder and better beer than the original while still retaining much of the original character of the recipe. Raconteur takes a stab at an American classic and delivers a fine tribute while taking the flavors from a mass consumption beer to a fine specialty beer.
Raconteur brings me back to my college days and delivers a solid 3 TEP’s out of 5.
By Iron Chef Leftovers
There are times that I think Black Raven is one of the best breweries in the state and others that I think “WTH are they doing over in Redmond?” Schwartzeit Black Lager lends itself more to the former than the latter sentiment. In case you are not familiar with Black Lagers, Wikipedia comes to the rescue:
Schwarzbier, or “black beer”, is a German dark lager beer. It has an opaque, black colour and a full, chocolatey or coffee flavour similar to stout or porter.
Schwarzbiers are bottom-fermented beers, though originally top-fermenting yeast was used in brewing them. The alcohol content usually ranges from 4.8%–5%. They get their dark colour from the use of particularly dark malts in brewing. The malt in turn gets its colour during the roasting procedure.
The roots of the Schwarzbier lie in Thuringia and Saxony; the oldest known Schwarzbier is Braunschweiger Mumme (“Brunswick Mum”) brewed since the Middle Ages (the first documented mention is from 1390) in Braunschweig. The earliest documented mention in Thuringia is of Köstritzer from 1543, a popular Schwarzbier still produced today. The East of present-day Germany has many unique varieties of this style from regional breweries. It is often served with dark, chunky breads with cream cheese. It also pairs well with marinated meats like brisket and is an excellent companion to German Sauerbraten.
I had the Schwartzeit in a 22oz bottle which ran about $7 and clocked in at 5.9% ABV.
The beer pours dark and slightly opaque with a generously fizzy tan head. A great deal of roasted malt appears on the nose with hints of chocolate and coffee – this beer could easily be confused with a stout on smell alone. The similarities end with the nose though – a slight sweetness starts you out, followed by a pleasant light grain flavor. That fades very quickly into light roast and chocolate (the chocolate is more pronounced as the beer warms) with a very mild bitterness from the hops at the end. The beer won’t win over light beer, drinkers despite being a lager, but it is balanced and delicious and should appeal to those who like a dark beer, but don’t want to go for full bore into the realm of stouts and porters.
Schwartzeit is a seasonal beer for Black Raven and one of the few that they actually bottle, so pick up a couple next time you see it in your local bottle shop.
Black Raven Schwartzeit Black Lager goose-steps in with a stellar 4 Achtungs! out of 5.